Stories from the Road

Category: Mental Health (Page 1 of 2)

Turn up the beat! Groove music can improve brain functioning

Neuroscience News »

Dancing to musical rhythms is a universal human activity. But now, researchers from Japan have found that dancing doesn’t just feel good, it also enhances brain function.

In a study recently published in Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Tsukuba have revealed that music with a groove, known as groove music, can significantly increase measures of executive function and associated brain activity in participants who are familiar with the music.

Music that elicits the sensation of groove can elicit feelings of pleasure and enhance behavioral arousal levels. Exercise, which has similar positive effects, is known to enhance executive function. Accordingly, this may also be an effect of listening to groove music. »

Published Research » Groove rhythm stimulates prefrontal cortex function in groove enjoyers” by Hideaki Soya et al. Scientific Reports

Elsewhere » Earth.com

10 benefits of a shorter working week

This is a summary of an article by Anna Coote, published by the New Economics Foundation in 2014  »

When done correctly, these are some of the benefits of working less hours per week »

  1. A smaller ecological footprint »
  2. A stronger economy » improves social and economic equality
  3. Better employees » less prone to sickness and absenteeism, a more stable and committed workforce
  4. Lower unemployment » helps to redistribute paid and unpaid time more evenly
  5. Improved wellbeing » greatly reduces stress levels and improves overall wellbeing, mental, and physical health
  6. More equality between men and women » helps change attitudes about gender roles
  7. Higher quality, affordable childcare » helps parents better balance their time, reducing the costs of full-time childcare
  8. More time for families, friends and neighbours » allows more time to value, appreciated, and strengthen all the relationships that make our lives worthwhile and help to build a stronger society
  9. Making more of later life » eases the transition from employment to retirement
  10. A stronger democracy » more time to participate in local activities, to learn and care about what is happening around us

Read the whole article »

The paradox of aging »The older we get, the happier we are

LA Times (2016) »

In a recent survey of more than 1,500 San Diego residents aged 21 to 99, researchers report that people in their 20s were the most stressed out and depressed, while those in their 90s were the most content.

There were no dips in well-being in midlife, and no tapering off of well-being at the end of life.

Instead scientists found a clear, linear relationship between age and mental health: The older people were, the happier they felt.

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A new study suggests regular consumption of cranberries could improve memory, ward off dementia, and reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol in humans

A new study by a research team at the University of East Anglia (UK) highlights the neuroprotective potential of cranberries.

The research team studied the benefits of consuming the equivalent of a cup of cranberries a day among 50 to 80-year-olds.

They hope that their findings could have implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Lead researcher Dr David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said, “Past studies have shown that higher dietary flavonoid intake is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia. And foods rich in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple colour, have been found to improve cognition.

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Mickey Mouse was right. Here’s proof that ‘To laugh at yourself is to love yourself.’ It might even save your life.

The National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded healthcare system in the UK, is set to start prescribing a 6-week stand-up comedy courses to help to men at risk of suicide “see the funny side” of things after a pilot program for trauma survivors proved successful.

The Guardian »

“That inspired me to prove that the models, exercises and games used in a standup comedy course can help people to recover from emotional problems such as mental illness, postnatal depression, PTSD and anxiety disorders,” she said.

After completing a highly successful six-week NHS course for trauma survivors in Bristol, Comedy on Referral has now won NHS funding to help men at risk of suicide in London. [Angie] Belcher is also in discussions with a private practice to extend the course to young people with autism and ADHD.

“My course for trauma victims encourages them to process their trauma in a different way, so they can change who the victim is and choose the narrative. They can actually go right down into ‘This is what I was thinking and then this thing happened to me’,” said Belcher.

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71-year-old Flying Dutchman and world-record holder Jo Schoonbroodt offers sensible training advice

On May 8th, Jo Schoonbroodt, a 71-year-old from Maastricht, Netherlands, ran a marathon in a breathtaking 2hr 54min 19sec to become the fastest septuagenarian in recorded marathon history. Jo set the new over 70 world record at the Maasmarathon de Visé, on a beautiful cross-border route through the Belgian and Dutch countryside.

The Guardian »

“I only started jogging at 36 because my doctor told me I had high cholesterol,” he says, chuckling. “But last year I ran 7,242 kilometres [4,450 miles], which is more than double what I did in my car.”

Incredibly it was Schoonbroodt’s 75th sub-three-hour marathon, and it came only four weeks after his 74th at the Rotterdam marathon. For good measure, the flying Dutchman also holds a number of ultra running records. He is clearly no ordinary Jo. But the secrets of his success might surprise you.

“Most runners train too hard. I do a lot of my training with groups who run very slowly. And then I build on these basics with some faster interval training. But I don’t do the same stupid distance 10 or 20 times – I prefer to have a lot of fun with my running.”

“A lot of people follow a training plan or coach and push on even when their body is saying: ‘No, this is not a good day to do it.’ But if you go out the door and just do what you feel, it’s easier to keep running and stay injury-free.” »

A ‘marathon’ is a long-distance foot race with a distance of 42.195 kilometres (or 26.2 miles).

Is it time to trade in your sunscreen for a shirt and a broad-brimmed hat?

Rowan Jacobsen, Outside Magazine (2019) »

For three years, his team tracked the blood pressure of 340,000 people in 2,000 spots around the U.S., adjusting for variables such as age and skin type. The results clearly showed that the reason people in sunnier climes have lower blood pressure is as simple as light hitting skin.

“Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years. Until the industrial revolution, we lived outside. How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen? Actually, perfectly well. What’s counterintuitive is that dermatologists run around saying, ‘Don’t go outside, you might die.’”

Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.

This does not mean breaking out the baby oil or cultivating a burnished tan. All the experts agree that sunburns—especially those suffered during childhood and adolescence—are particularly bad. »

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